What is a Charter School

A charter school is a public school operated by a group of parents, teachers, and community members that is responsible to—and runs autonomously from—the school district. Our "charter" is a contract between Ridgeline Montessori and Eugene School District 4J. The charter spells out the school’s goals, standards, accountability plan, education design and curriculum, governance, and operations. Ridgeline is a nonprofit corporation with a volunteer board of directors.

While charter schools resemble public, alternative schools in Eugene, there are differences. Charter schools have access to startup and operational monies in the form of federal funding awarded through the Oregon Department of Education.  Charter schools are free public schools providing innovative educational opportunities to students.  In Oregon, elementary charter schools receive 80% of the funding a traditional elementary school receives, and charter schools must provide their own school facility (whether they lease a facility or purchase their own building).

A charter school also has flexibility in staff certification. According to charter school law, at least half the teachers must be Oregon certified. Ridgeline’s goal is to employ teachers who are both Oregon-certified and Montessori-trained teachers. The Montessori training and certification process is separate, specialized, and rigorous. 

Ridgeline Montessori is among about 500 public Montessori schools in the United States today, some of which are also charter schools. In Oregon, there are now four public Montessori charter schools. Ridgeline was the first.